A Quick Guide to Baking Ham
Baking ham is sometimes considered the biggest baking task on Christmas, but it's actually a relatively simple thing to do. And you'll definitely want to enjoy baked ham more than once a year!
Many people consider ham to be the best part of a holiday meal. It's appetizing to look at, not difficult to prepare, and it won't make you sleep the rest of the day, like the tryptophan in turkey sometimes does.
Baking ham begins with selecting the size and type of ham you want for your family and/or guests. You can choose fully cooked or partially cooked ham. Make sure if you're going to gobble some when you get home that the ham you are buying is fully cooked.
You can either buy a boneless ham or one with the bone still in. The bone-in hams generally have more flavor, but the boneless hams are a lot easier to slice and serve. The boneless hams also present themselves better; they tend to look more like the feast we picture when we think about Christmas dinner. If you buy bone-in ham, allow about one-half to three-quarters of a pound for each person. If you're buying a boneless ham, one quarter to one half pound per person will probably do. Everyone loves ham leftovers as sandwiches and snacks, so go too big rather than too small.
Spiral sliced hams are newer than the conventional types, and the way they are made, they split themselves into thin slices when you serve them, which is quite handy. In addition, these hams usually have their own glaze and it's baked onto them, so you won't be so much baking ham as heating it.
After selecting the ham for your feast, baking ham is a fairly simple process. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. You need to place the ham, fat side up, in a baking pan, on a rack. Cut shallow and thin scores about a quarter inch deep over the surface of the fatty meat, in a diamond pattern. If you are using a meat thermometer, insert it into the ham now.
You will bake the ham in that 325 degree oven. If you are using a fully cooked ham, you will watch that the thermometer pops out at 140 degrees. If your ham is not fully cooked, let the internal temperature of the meat to get to 160 degrees. Baking ham isn't rocket science, but you need to be as close as you can get to these target temperatures.
If you plan to glaze your ham, spoon off the fat from the baking pan about a half hour before your ham is finished cooking. Use a brush or a spoon to spread the fat over the meat every five or ten minutes.
Slice the ham (unless you bought a spiral sliced ham) and arrange your side dishes on the table. Then call out dinner time and watch as everyone flocks to your table.